Dec 18, 2014 | By Alec

While 3D printing has the manufacturing potential for just about any object you can think of, many 3D printing enthusiasts rarely go beyond a handful of simple items, and that's hardly surprising. After all, those electronic objects looks great, but can quickly cost you quite a lot of money as you need to purchase all those circuit boards, batteries and who knows what.

Fortunately, Jonny Bischof, a YouMagine user, has just shared a very useful and equally accessible guide for 3D printing yourself a very cheap circuit board that can be used for whatever project you're working on. And before you start lamenting that you 'can't print conductive filament' or that you don't have the skills to assemble it, relax! It's quite a simple project that requires minimal engineering skill to complete. And it doesn't rely on conductive filament either; Jonny argues that there is no such thing – 'There is no conductive filament at the moment - only dissipative plastic (sold as "conductive") which is a completely different thing' – so it requires just a bit of soldering to complete.

Jonny originally designed this circuit board to put his Ultimaker 1 3D printer and its heated print bed on separate power sources, to ensure his printer wouldn't be straining to operate. This obviously requires a custom circuit board, and he decided to share his designs because of a recent trend he noticed in electronic tinkering; 'Hearing about people buying SSRs or even mechanical relays instead of just simply using a MosFET kinda hurts my feelings, so I decided to put together a little DIY hack to solve the problem.'

For while SSRs are fully viable (and slightly more versatile) alternatives, most projects will be just as well off with the cheaper MosFET setup. 'Solid state relays (SSRs) are waaaay overengineered because they're made for industrial control applications where safety certificates, electrical isolation and things like these matter.'

Just download all of the necessary files on Jonny's YouMagine page to complete your own very versatile circuit board, using his very detailed tutorial. And rest assured, while the whole electronic setup can seem a bit daunting, Jonny takes care of everything and assures us: 'Don't be afraid of the long instructions, it's really easy to solder the components together.'

The entire design is fully ESD protected, and provides space for an LED indicator that will light up with powered. It relies on self-tapping screws that ideal for thermoplastics (so plastite screws), but you can always contact him about using standard screws and he'll provide a few tips and alterations to the design.

The example you can see above has been printed in PLA with a 0.1 mm layer height and 100% scale. Jonny recommends using 2 shells, 100% infill and a rate of 35 mm/s. The PLA material will melt a little when all the soldering takes place, but that is unavoidable. 'I wouldn't use ABS because it will melt just as much as PLA, but will also smell bad...' Just make sure you don't place the finished board on anything that generates heat, cause that will cause a few problems.

So what are you waiting for? This simple project will not only save you a bit of money, it will also most a whole host of other 3D printing projects more accessible. Projects like these are exactly what our open-source community needs to rely on.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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JonnyBischof wrote at 12/23/2014 8:17:45 PM:

Nice article! Thanks for putting it into the spotlight ;) I hope this will encourage other people to make little hacks like this using an actually "printed circuit board". Even if you have components that will require you to use enameled copper wire (traditionally used wire in electronics prototyping), it still makes it much easier for other people to build one for themselves if they have a PCB with component markings on top and "wire" markings on the bottom. The only downside of making these kinds of PCBs is that it's quite a bit of work to design them. After all, you have to draw the stuff up in 3D.

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